The John Slidell Mission : Mexico 1845-1846
SubjectSlidell, John, 1793-1871--Foreign relations--History; Polk, James K. (James Knox), 1795-1849--Foreign relations--History; Mexican War, 1846-1848--Diplomatic history; United States--Relations--Mexico--History; Mexico--Relations--United States--History
The problem. Controversy has long existed regarding the diplomatic mission of John Slidell to Mexico in the period before the outbreak of the Mexican War. Sent by President James K. Polk, Slidell ostensibly had a dual purpose: to repair the damage to U.S.-Mexican relations created by the annexation of Texas, and to purchase a large portion of what is now Southwest U.S. from Mexico. Polk enjoyed an initial period of praise from historians for his actions in the matter. In the past few decades, however, a large number of historians have accused the American President of deliberately provoking a war with the nation's southern neighbor in order to obtain territorial concessions. This thesis examines the controversy and presents evidence to support its conclusions. Procedure. The first step in the construction of the thesis involved a thorough review of secondary sources written since the time of the mission. After this primary sources were carefully consulted. A great deal of attention was paid to works of the principal participants themselves. Finally, correspondence between Slidell and Washington was examined and relied on heavily. Notes from these works were placed on cards and the paper was then written from these. Findings. It is the conclusion of this writer that President Polk did not deliberately act about to provoke a war with Mexico. Rather it was his intention to sincerely seek a negotiated settlement. The terms proffered by the President, however, precluded the possibility of any such settlement. In addition, the internal situation in Mexico was such that the mission was for all practical purposes doomed to failure from its inception.
101 leaves. Advisor: Charles Nelson
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